Welcome to your brain

August 1st, 2011 by Slabs | Print Welcome to your brain

Rating: 5 of 5 ★★★★★ 

An easy read and incredibly informative.  The subtitle is: Why you lose your car keys but never forget how to drive and other puzzles of everyday life.  One of the reasons I write book reviews and started a career oriented blog here is to make sure to retain my learning’s over the entire course of my life.  This book enforced my reason for doing it in the chapter on memory – use it or lose it.  Synapses in the brain can be strengthened or weakened over time, if you don’t revisit memories from time to time they can fade or completely disappear.

Here is my top list for what I found interesting in the book:

  1. We use all our brain: The myth that we only use 10% of our brains is complete BS. We use 100% of our brains – don’t you feel dumber now :(
  2. Brain setupThe brain is wired like my motorcycle after I took it apart and put it back together again – except worse. The wiring is horrible. Certain connections are handling multiple tasks. EG: 25% of the population sneezes when they look at a bright light b/c their brains are wired such that the connections that handle pupil dilation also handle sneezing. There are lots of examples like these throughout the book!
      Our brains started out as very basic and then kept adding functionality. As any engineer knows, this can lead to very poor design and efficiency. Yep, that’s your brain. Incredibly complex, incredibly poorly designed. If we could start over, the plumbing could be made much cleaner and efficient. I feel for neurosurgeons!
  3. Factors influencing intelligence: Little geniuses – playing Mozart does not make babies smarter. Genetics set the upper bound for intelligence. Pre-natal care, diet, and opportunity for development are the environmental factors that can then decrease intelligence. In the US it’s not hard to ensure that your baby Einstein has all his / her needs met so don’t stress.
  4. Happiness: Frequent small events have a greater cumulative impact than occasion large positive events. Here are some exercises that can increase happiness
    • Focus on positive events. Every evening for a month write down 3 good things that happened that day and explain what caused each of them.
    • Practicing using your character strengths. Got to authentichappiness.org and take the VIA signature strengths questionnaire to figure out what they are. Next, use them in one new way every day for a week.
    • Remember to be grateful. Every day write down 5 things you are thankful for.
  5. Willpower can be trained. There is a part of your brain responsible for willpower and the dendrites / synapses / etc. can be strengthened.
  6. Meditation works. Brain scans further prove that practitioners of meditation are able to change their mental state. This can be finding inner peace or removing feelings of physical pain. It’s pretty cool what we can do when we put our minds to it!

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